Rethinking biofuels

Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by GT WT, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. GT WT

    GT WT 1,000+ Posts

    Nothing is all good or all bad. That includes biofuels. The EU is rethinking its committment to ethanol based fuels
    The Link

    Do you agree? Or is this just another plot by the effete Europeans to impede progress?

  2. Xminus6

    Xminus6 500+ Posts

    the main issue with ethanol as a fuel is that it's not terribly efficient to extract and it doesn't have as much energy as gasoline. i read an article on slashdot recently that linked to a guy who was doing work with butanol, which is a different form of alcohol. evidently it has 99% of the energy of gasoline and can be extracted in similar ways as ethanol. the benefit of butanol is that it can be a 1:1 replacement for gasoline and current cars run on it straight. plus it can use the existing gasoline infrastructure for delivery. seemed promising, but what alternative fuels don't when they're first introduced?
  3. BillSapphire

    BillSapphire < 25 Posts

    One way to view the ethanol -&#62; automotive fuel process: using electricity to store energy as C-H. Using electricity to load fuel cells wins over using electricity to make ethanol as far as thermodynamic efficiency. Corn growing does use solar energy too, of course, but the nitrogen requirements are the big sink.

    Ethanol's paying off now because of two things: government edict and the easy inclusion of ethanol into the gasoline cycle.

    I doubt fuel cells would ever reach the needed power/mass ratio needed for general aircraft however.
  4. Used2btexaslover

    Used2btexaslover 250+ Posts

    There are vast amounts of unused land in poor places like Africa that can be used to grow crops for biofuels that will in turn help the poor by creating industry in their area. It just needs time.

    The rise in the cost food is attributible to the rise in the price of oil as much as it is in the price of corn and crops. In fact, if there was no ethanol in the current supply or the prospect of more effeciently produced ethanol in the future we'd be seeing even higher energy prices.

    Producing ethanol from corn is not as effecient as producing it from grass, waste, etc., using cellulosic technology but right now corn ethanol is a placeholder for the more efficient cellulosic ethanol while the infrastructure (plants, transportation, dispensers) is being established.
  5. GT WT

    GT WT 1,000+ Posts

    I'm not sure there is "unused land". All land is being used, by man or by wildlife.

    I'm not an expert on fuel production, but it seems the problems with biofuels include:

    1) Conversion economy - it takes a lot of energy to produce ethanol. The net gain seems small.

    2) Inflation of agricultural products - the increased demand for biofuel raw products (especially corn) means it costs more to feed livestock, driving up the cost of meat and dairy products.

    3) Conversion of wild lands to agriculture - as an example see the conversion of coastal forests in Brasil to sugar cane destined for ethanol production.

  6. Luke Duke

    Luke Duke 1,000+ Posts

  7. Bernard

    Bernard 1,000+ Posts

    Ethanol is a scam. It's a a massive vote buying machine for politicians. It's a windfall for farmers and farm land owners (and ADM). As a fuel, it's a joke. It's a waste of good farmland. When calculating the "benefits" of ethanol, the scammers conveniently forget the emissions created by the corn growing and ethanol production processes itself. They don't mention that ethanol can't be mixed with gasoline in a pipeline so it has to be shipped by truck or train to it's final destination creating more polution.


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